Electronic Arts flags thousands of YouTube videos

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The video game publisher Electronic Arts, or simply EA, has recently begun to claim the copyrights on any YouTube video featuring their games. The main game that is being flagged is Battlefield 3, a game which has a huge YouTube community that was growing daily. EA’s decision to claim their visual content will have a huge impact on their already poor reputation.

A copyright flag on YouTube is not as bad as it sounds. It is simply a notification to the user that someone has claimed copyright on some content in the video. In this case EA is claiming all of its visual content; the gameplay footage. By claiming the footage, they also claim a portion of the ad revenue for the video. As the legal owners of the content, EA has every right to do so. This action does not affect the uploader’s copyright infringement status.

EA has one of the worst reputations in the gaming community, trumped only by Zynga. Personally I think that the hate on EA is exaggerated far beyond what they deserve. One thing that is often repeated is the idea that EA is only in it for the money. The recent actions by EA on YouTube play right into that accusation.

Currently most game publishers are happy to let users share video content of their game because it acts as free advertising. They do not take actions against large YouTubers profiting from their copyrighted content because they know that YouTube now drives a large portion of game sales. For EA this must not have been enough. EA also wants to claim the one or two dollars that each small Battlefield video will make every month. Over millions of videos that number adds up to quite a chunk of change for EA. Can you really blame them for the decision?

Did EA figure that their actions would go unnoticed? I doubt it.  The victims of this new policy are people whose hobby is informing and entertaining. YouTubers specialize in getting their message heard by as many people as possible. It will be interesting to see how this situation unfolds over the next few months as more and more people get flagged videos.

Knowing the internet, this could explode out of proportions and damage EA’s reputation or it could simply go unnoticed and become a norm for gaming companies. I hope other companies have more loyalty and respect for their YouTube communities and that this does not become industry standard.